Ryan McGinley’s Beautiful Rebels

The Celebrated Artist Reveals the Unexpected Magic of Shooting his Butterfly Film For Edun

Six species of African butterflies flutter about the tattooed torso of Bradley Soileau and the candy floss-colored hair of Charlotte Free in artist Ryan McGinley’s dynamic video portraits for Edun’s Spring 2012 campaign. Set to the soulful gospel of “If I Had A Little Love” by the Majestic Arrows, McGinley’s playful scenes of butterflies decorating the fingers, shoulders and cheekbones of a luminous cast of young models are punctuated with key pieces from the collection, such as a hand-crocheted pair of shorts or a laser-cut blouse. “I was interested in how the body could reveal the butterfly,” explains McGinley, “how it could fly out of the models’ mouths, hands or pants in its unfurling glory.” With Creative Director Sharon Wauchob preparing to send her fourth collection for Edun down the New York runway, the fashion house is establishing itself as an important voice in contemporary design. Founded by Ali Hewson and Bono in 2005, the brand’s commitment to sustainable fashion through trade and community building initiatives in countries including Uganda and Kenya and is an inspiration for the fashion industry on the positive change it can make. Here McGinley speaks to NOWNESS about casting butterflies and other free spirits for Edun’s debut advertising campaign.

Why did you pick butterflies for the Edun campaign?
I’m endlessly fascinated by the grace and eloquence of the butterfly. Like them, we are all on a long journey where we encounter endless turns, shifts, and conditions that cause us to change. The butterfly makes us realize that our journey is our only guarantee.

Were there some entertaining moments on set?
My camera was captivated by the graceful chaos they created. What I enjoy most while making photographs is a surprise. Something that happens that I can't anticipate, it's like magic. Butterflies are unpredictable and that's what made the day fun.

What is your casting process like?
Casting is truly one of my passions. I spend a lot of time looking for people to work with. I have a full time casting director at my studio who finds me people who are beautiful in an interesting way. I'm constantly shooting nudes in my studio to find new subjects I can work with in different capacities.

Where did the Beautiful Rebels theme come from?
I suppose Beautiful Rebels is a nod to [Leonard] Cohen's wonderful novel Beautiful Losers. Rebelling has always been part of my DNA, photographically and in life. The people I cast in my photographs are a representation of my own spirit. Just like Cohen I'm trying to fuse sexuality with spirituality within in my work.

To see an exclusive selection of images taken during the making of this campaign, visit the NOWNESS Facebook page

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Conversations (3)

  • jean dominique ferrucci
    Sorry, but Nowness shouldn't show this kind of films. Absolutly without interest. The author is famous and a great photographer, ok, but it's not enough..;careful to this kind of "name dropping"!
  • ToddAnthony.org
    No. Elements clashed and did not work together, achieving opposite of attempted effect, not poignant or graceful or surreal, sorry :(
  • reviveramesh
    just to get color n coolness - u harm the butterflies - no not coool at all - and did they use deodorants!
    • Posted By reviveramesh
    • May 01, 2012 at 6:10AM
    • Share Comment:

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